100 for 2000 – #66. Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2006 – #6. Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope
(Sire)

Emily was quite surprised with me, as we stood in line, outside that synagogue in Marble Arch. How can I not have heard Regina Spektor? It was a good question. Somehow she just missed me by. I think I got her mixed up with Ronnie Spector. So here we were then, lining up to see her. I had not heard a note of her music. I was still so new to London, and she was doing a short showcase at a beautiful synagogue. It was the launch of her album Begin To Hope.

She only did 8 or 9 songs that night, but I was blown away. I was actually in love by the first song – Summer In the City. A lonely, sexy ballad about missing a faraway lover, it wrapped up my time so far in London. Missing friends, wishing it was summer, drinking too much.

The rest of that gig was filled mainly with material from Begin To Hope, and each was better than the next. For the next year or so, this album became a big part of my life. It seemed the deeper I dug, the more rewards I found.

I have a soft spot for girl-y singer songwriter stuff. I always have, and it’s somewhere between a crush and being in love. Or maybe it’s more like a soap opera. And I’m not in love with Regina Spektor, the person (or Angie Hart, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Beth Orton etc) – I’m in love with the mysterious girl who exists for about 45 minutes on their records.

But to really get the most out of Regina Spektor, you have to meet her halfway. Her strange erratic melodies, and her imagery – cereal boxes, dolphins, wonder bread, November Rain. But between the clever stuff, there is real heart. The climax of On the Radio sums it up. After questioning funny things about life and love, she backtracks and spells it out

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood

It’s probably one of the most beautiful expressions of love and life I’ve ever heard.

I still carry this album with me. For albums about love, girls and matters of the heart, it’s the most important album for me in the late 20s. Every minor and major encounter with love has been reflected on this album. The intimacy of drool on another’s pillow (Samson), a night in with a little bag of cocaine (Hotel Song), trying to kiss anywhere except the mouth (That Time)…and so much more.

A few years after that synagogue show, Regina came up in conversation. I brought up that show, that awesome first show. Well, turns out Mike somehow had a recording of the show. Which I now have as well. It’s pretty cool to have a recording of a show that changed your life.

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